In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court on Tuesday created the “third gender” status for hijras or transgenders. Earlier, they were forced to write male or female against their gender.
The SC asked the Centre to treat transgender as socially and economically backward.
The apex court said that transgenders will be allowed admission in educational institutions and given employment on the basis that they belonged to the third gender category.
The SC said absence of law recognizing hijras as third gender could not be continued as a ground to discriminate them in availing equal opportunities in education and employment.
This is for the first time that the third gender has got a formal recognition. The third gender people will be considered as OBCs, the SC said.
The SC said they will be given educational and employment reservation as OBCs.
The apex court also said states and the Centre will devise social welfare schemes for third gender community and run a public awareness campaign to erase social stigma.
The SC said the states must construct special public toilets and departments to look into their special medical issues.
The SC also added that if a person surgically changes his/her sex, then he or she is entitled to her changed sex and can not be discriminated.
The apex court expressed concern over transgenders being harasssed and discriminated in the society and passed a slew of directions for their social welfare.
The apex court said that trangenders were respected earlier in the society but situation has changed and they now face discrimination and harassment.
It said that section 377 of IPC is being misused by police and other authorities against them and their social and economic condition is far from satisfactory.
The bench clarified that its verdict pertains only to eunuchs and not other sections of society like gay, lesbian and bisexuals who are also considered under the umbrella term ‘transgender’.
The bench said they are part and parcel of the society and the government must take steps to bring them in the main stream of society.
The apex court passed the order on a PIL filed by National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) urging the court to give separate identity to transgenders by recognising them as third category of gender.
Welcoming the Supreme Court decision, Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi, transgender rights activist said, “the progress of the country is dependent upon human rights of the people and we are very happy with the judgment as the Supreme court has given us those rights.”
Engaging Youngistan: Shashi Tharoor’s letter to first-time voters
(Dr. Shashi Tharoor, MP from Thiruvananthapuram and the Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development, is the author of 14 books, including, most recently, Pax Indica: India and the World of the 21st Century.)
The 2014 elections are a critical juncture in the history of our nation. They are being described as a ‘youthquake’, with an unprecedented share of first-time voters coming forward to exercise their democratic right. An estimated 150 million young Indians like you will cast their votes this year, and there are about 90,000 new voters in every constituency in our country (over a lakh in Thiruvananthapuram).
The average age of our population is a young 28, and half our countrymen are below the age of 25, while 66% are under 35! In a decade’s time, when China reaches an average age well above 40, India’s people will remain young at 29. Even as the workforce in China and the West shrinks, our human resources in India are developing at a staggering rate that will leave us with a substantial edge over the rest of the world. The India of tomorrow is your India, and this is your century.
These elections, then, are not merely about casting votes. They are your way of shaping our nation’s future, and yours. Voting is a way of involving yourself in the decisions that matter: decisions about professional opportunities in our country, the investment climate we build, the way in which revenues are raised and spent, and the policies that will affect your own advancement.
Over the last few years, in a welcome development, Indian youth have increasingly been getting involved in politics. Innovative UPA Government policies, from the strengthening of Panchayati Raj institutions to establishing the effective Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme as well as promulgating the revolutionary Right to Information (RTI) Act, have created conducive ground for mass mobilisation and awareness.
Change is in the air, and many youth have demonstrated this through your backing of the Jan Lokpal Bill, the massive outpouring of support for the Delhi rape victim known as Nirbhaya, and by demonstrations to strike down Section 377, to name only a few examples.
There is no doubt that young Indians are taking a greater interest in the running of our country and reshaping the way we look at government and how government looks at us.
But when you cast your vote in 2014, I appeal to you also to vote for an Idea of India, to borrow Tagore’s famous phrase. Our nation is at a crossroads where the decisions of its youth will determine India’s future course and destiny. The India envisioned by our founding fathers was a land of certain key values, the most important of which was our abiding pluralism. This has in fact been an ancient tradition; India is the country where St Thomas brought Christianity long before it reached Europe.
It is the land where Jews sought refuge after the destruction of their First Temple by the Babylonians. When the Zoroastrians fled persecution in Iran, it was to India that they came. Alexander’s Greek successors were absorbed into our population, as were the Mughals, Arab traders, Mongol and Scythian warriors, and others of innumerable ethnicities, denominations and faiths. Practically all the religions of the world co-existed in India peacefully for centuries until the colonial era politics of “divide and rule” exacerbated minor schisms into major political factors. Upon gaining Independence, however, our founding fathers sought to cast aside these artificial, imposed divisions to restore to India her original character; one of pluralism, diversity, and equal freedom.
In recent years, however, an ugly ideology has taken root among certain sections that visualizes India through the narrow parameters of religious identity.
No matter what its varied pretensions otherwise, it remains at its core an intolerant strand of thought, which wants to reinvent India in an ugly and bigoted form - a step that can only lead to calamity.
Divisive characters of every variety are welcomed into this intellectual and political fold, which utilizes the freedoms of our society to propagate its own regressive agenda.
Sustaining pluralism is never easy, but this new ideology takes advantage of our youth’s enthusiasm and eagerness for political and economic change, by concealing its principal motives under a camouflage of ‘progress’. It promises development but it is important to note that this is development for a privileged few only.
Gay community to Narendra Modi: You will not get our vote
It’s the first election in India where the rights of sexual minorities are a political issue. Three major political parties – the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) – have pledged to decriminalise consensual same-sex relations if elected, suggesting the rising societal support for the rights of sexual minorities could find political resonance.
The Congress manifesto also promises protection for the rights of transgenders, who have only just found inclusion in the country’s electoral process this year, with the “other” gender option being introduced to voter ID cards. While neither queer support groups nor the parties themselves have official numbers on the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) demographic in various constituencies, even symbolic support at this stage is highly encouraging, say members of the queer community.
The AAP manifesto is yet to be released, but the party has been actively engaged in dialogues with the LGBTQ community regarding the sensitisation of its members on issues of gender, most recently at a workshop moderated by queer filmmaker and AAP member, Onir. “It is important for us not to be seen as a minority, but as part of a mainstream conversation about sexual autonomy,” he said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party is yet to release their poll manifesto, but party President Rajnath Singh has in the past described homosexuality as “unnatural” and stated his support for Article 377, the legal provision that criminalises a broad range of sexual acts, including homosexual intercourse between consenting adults.
The Congress’ apparent support for same-sex relations comes at a time when the Indian LGBTQ community has faced its most serious setback yet. In December 2013, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court upheld Section 377, rejected the Delhi High Court judgment in favour of decriminalisation.
Shortly after, the apex court dismissed a fresh petition by the Naz Foundation to review its own judgment – shutting down any further legal conversations on the rights of what it decreed a “miniscule minority”.
While petitioner Naz Foundation has faced criticism in the past for choosing the legal route to contest section 377, instead of lobbying for change in the legislature, it appears that the Supreme Court’s conservative ruling has ironically catalyzed a strong political support base for queer rights.
“Despite marginalisation, the young, queer voter has a new and strong identity,” said gender rights activist Gautam Bhan. “This is a generation that has discovered its voice in the five years since the Delhi High Court’s judgment. They want progress, but not at the cost of personal freedoms.”
On social media and in real life, the LGBTQ community has been discussing if India has a “queer vote”, and whom they should vote for anyway. “The marginalised may remain hidden,” said writer and queer activist Lesley Esteves, “but we do realise that we are all being threatened by a common enemy.” Esteves says the decision of the three parties to support of gay rights is a “smart political move”.
Even if it does not translate into votes, it does show that all three are willing to “stick their necks out” against the the Supreme Court judgment and demonstrate their opposition to the BJP’s position on queer rights. “Now more than ever,” she said, “it has become clear who not to vote for.”
Since December 2012, and the nationwide protests that followed the rape and murder of a 23-year-old female in New Delhi, it has been evident that questions of gender and sexual autonomy will be pivotal to the country’s upcoming general elections.
While parties across the board have addressed the question of women’s security, only the Congress, AAP and CPI (ML) realise that questions of gender and sexuality are an essential way to address and the politics of social conservatism, and reach out to the young urban voter. “Even if we had won the legal battle, social acceptance might have taken another couple of decades for same-sex partners,” said equal rights activist Harish Iyer. “I think a few political parties have definitely accelerated that process now.”
While frequent users of Grindr, a mobile dating app for gay men, were recently surprised to find automatically generated BJP advertisements between searches for prospective partners, the party’s refusal to speak on Section 377, particularly in light of the AAP and Congress’ pledge for decriminalisation, is being described as an “active silence”.
"There are still people of privilege that continue to identify as homosexual and support the BJP,” said historian Mario da Penha, "but they are largely enamoured by the muscularity of Hindutva, or the veneer of order and development that Modi promises.”
The arrest of Tehsin Akhtar alias Monu has come as a major jolt to the homegrown terror outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM) as it has virtually crippled with its main leaders in India in police net. Investigators say there isn’t a single known face in the country capable of executing IM operations now.
"The India operations by known leaders who could motivate new members have pretty much wound up with Abdus Subhan Qureshi alias Tauqeer, a SIMI ideologue, left as the only known face. Tauqeer, however, is not involved in operations of IM and only motivates and brainwashes new recruits," said an officer.
Another important factor which investigators say has crippled IM is that the outfit has been left without a trained ‘bomb-maker’ now. “Waqas, Tehsin, Yasin and Assadullah were only persons who could make perfect IEDs. They all are in the custody of Indian agencies,” said a senior officer.
Since its inception, Yasin Bhatkal had been managing all tasks single-handedly and IM was able to carry out strikes even though more than 60 members of the group were arrested. Tehsin had taken over since his arrest last year.
So who will lead the group now? The investigators believe one of the six-seven founding members of IM who are based in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan may be sent to India to take over.
"After Yasin Bhatkal, Monu was the man Friday not just for Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal but also for several other members of IM who are presently based across the border," says DCP Sanjeev Yadav in a statement.
At present, the known handlers based abroad are Doctor Shahnawaz Alam, Bada Sajid, Khalid, Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, Amir Reza Khan and Mirza Shahdab Baig. Among these men, Shahnawaz, who juggles between Middle-East and Pakistan since the Batla house encounter, is the prime contender to take over,” says an officer.
A native of Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, Shahnawaz is familiar with various places in the country. It was only after the Batla encounter that Shahnawaz, who was the top leader of the group’s Azamgarh module, crossed over to Nepal with other IM men and procured forged Nepali passports. “He took a flight to Sharjah, where he regrouped with other IM leaders - Amir Reza Khan, Iqbal Bhatkal and his younger brother Riyaz. Since then, he was among the top three handlers of these terrorists being readied in India,” said an officer.
The major fear among the Indian security agencies is that apart from Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, rest of the group’s members have inclined towards the Taliban which believes in Fidayeen attacks. “If any one apart from these two take over, they may try to carry out such attacks. We are trying to develop intelligence in this connection,” said an officer.
Roy’s new essay about BR Ambedkar is being assailed by some Dalit radicals. They are doing him a disservice.
As blogs and social media took India by the storm in the mid-2000s, their big target was Big Media. For the first time, journalists and editors got a taste of their own medicine. They began to hear criticism of their work on a minute-by-minute basis: some fair and some unfair, some in long prose and some in nasty one-liners. They did not take to it nicely. They complained about the language used by bloggers and social media enthusiasts, they went on and on about the abuse. One often heard the grouse, “On the internet, anyone can say anything!”
It was funny that they complained about almost everyone acquiring the ability to say anything, a transformation of public discourse they should have actually welcomed. I wondered at the irony of journalists seeming to be unsure about free speech and expression. Matters became serious after 2011, when their insecurities about social media fed into the discussion about Kapil Sibal’s attempts to ‘regulate’ online speech, which led to such events as cartoonists being jailed.
At that moment, I felt grateful to Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. When India’s Constituent Assembly was debating free speech, it was proposed that there be a special clause to ensure press freedom. But Dr Ambedkar, chairperson of the drafting committee of the Constitution, intervened to say that every Indian should have the right to free speech, and nobody should be more equal in this regard. Had it not been for that intervention, I thought, the celebrity faces of Indian journalism would have been using the law to muzzle voices online.
Had Ambedkar been alive today, he would have been shocked to find that some Dalit radical intellectuals are arguing that they are more equal than others when it comes to reading Ambedkar.
The most famous text from Ambedkar’s collected volumes is called “The Annihilation of Caste”, a long essay that is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand Indian society. It is freely available on the internet. Among other places, the Columbia University website is a good place to read it.
This month, Delhi-based Navayana Publishers has published The Annihilation of Caste with detailed new annotations and a long introduction by Arundhati Roy. Titled The Doctor and the Saint, Roy’s introduction enters the Gandhi vs. Ambedkar debate, which is fitting because The Annihilation of Caste renewed the debate between the two in 1936. Gandhi responded to The Annihilation of Caste in the 15 August 1936 issue of The Harijan, and Ambedkar subsequently appended his ‘Reply to the Mahatma’ as part of the original text.
Navayana’s Siriyavan Anand has obtained blurbs by eminent academics that praise his annotations more than Roy’s introduction, even as it is the latter that has been presented as the book’s USP in the media. Caravan magazine carried an excerpt as its cover story and Outlook magazine carried another excerpt along with an interview of Roy.
Ambedkar wrote The Annihilation of Caste as a speech on the invitation of an anti-caste group, the Jat-Pat Todak Mandal of Lahore. The group found the text of the speech offensive, particularly the parts where he criticised Hindu sacred texts such as the Vedas and said that this would be his last address as a Hindu. As a result, it decided to cancel the event. Ambedkar then printed 1,500 copies of the speech himself and distributed them. Ambedkar was being prevented from letting the world hear what he had to say about annihilating caste but he did not allow himself to be censored.
You would think, therefore, that Dalit intellectuals would only be happy that Arundhati Roy is engaging with that text, that leading English language magazines are telling the world about it, that we need to read Ambedkar, and explaining why.
Strangely, some Dalit radicals and intellectuals have a problem with Arundhati Roy reading, learning from and expounding about Ambedkar. On March 9, Roy was to be in Hyderabad to launch the book. But the event was cancelled because the publisher feared protests from Dalit radicals who have been upset about the book. The Hindu quoted some of them:
“The book is extremely important for Dalits and it not right to add footnotes to the book. We feel Arundhati Roy has diluted Ambedkar’s writing and there is every chance that the book might be misinterpreted. Roy has always been a Maoist sympathiser and has never been vocal on Dalit atrocities. So with that understanding, how can she write a foreword for the book?” asked J. Srinivas, state co-convenor for the Dalit Shakti programme, and a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Hyderabad.
Renowned author and lawyer Bojja Tarakam, who will be the guest at the event, also plans to raise objections regarding the content. “Most of the preface is about Gandhi, rather than Ambedkar. What is the need to write so much about him?” Mr. Tarakam said. However, he opposed any kind of curbs on the release of the book and felt it should be released in order to facilitate healthy discussion on the subject.
In other words, Dalit intellectuals think it is their right, by virtue of their caste, to decide whether a Maoist sympathiser can write on Ambedkar; whether one can write on the Ambedkar debate with Gandhi; or whether one is allowed to write more words in criticism of Gandhi than in praise of Ambedkar. The Annihilation of Caste was written for the upper castes, meant to be addressed to them.
Conversations such as the ones between Ambedkar and Gandhi seem no longer possible, even between those on the same side as Ambedkar. In a pithy statement announcing the cancellation of the Hyderabad events, Navayana said, “There have been some difficulties in the distribution of the book and it is not yet available, especially in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai etc. Meanwhile acrimonious debates have been taking place without many people getting a chance to read it. The launch is therefore postponed till such a time as the book is widely available, and a more informed conversation can take place.”
Translation: please read the book before you dismiss it.
Navayana’s blurb for the book reads, “Roy breathes new life into Ambedkar’s anti-caste utopia, and says that without a Dalit revolution, there cannot be any other in India.” Writing on the Ambedkarite blog Round Table India, Dalit activist Anoop Kumar understands the word utopia to be meant in a negative sense, though it was not. Kumar tells the powerful story of a village where just last year, the erection of a statue of 15th century social reformer and bhakti poet Sant Ravidas n Bihar’s Rohtas district led to violence. Incensed by the assertion over public space with the Sant Ravidas statue, Rajputs attacked Dalits, killing one and injuring 54. Kumar’s point in recalling the incident as a response to Arundhati Roy is to suggest that upper caste intellectuals like Roy are preventing Dalit intellectuals like him from asserting themselves in the sphere of ideas. Ironically, by writing about Ambedkar, she is seeking to expand that sphere.
The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2014 was adopted by voice vote along with several official amendments, with main opposition BJP coming on board.
Moving the bill for consideration and passage, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the Centre will give special financial package to Seemandhra, residual part of Andhra Pradesh, to address the grievances of the people of that region.
A number of amendments moved by AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi and Trinamool Congress member Sougata Roy were negated.
No telecast of proceedings by LS
Significantly, there was no live telecast by Lok Sabha TV for 90 minutes during clause by clause consideration of the bill before its passage.
Many members protested the way the bill was passed in the din, saying it was against the democratic norms and a “black day” in the country’s democracy.
The Bill was passed after a very brief discussion in which only Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and minister Jaipal Reddy, a pro-Telangana leader from Andhra Pradesh, spoke.
The bill was introduced in the House on February 13 amid unprecedented scenes marked by fisticuffs, pepper spraying and breaking of House articles. 16 MPs belonging to Seemandhra region were suspended and they could not attend the House today.
BJP supported Telangana creation
Swaraj, who spoke as per an understanding with the government, said her party supports the creation of Telangana but attacked the way it was being done.
“I and my party support the Bill…Telangana should be formed…We rise to prove our credibility and to see wishes of youth of Telangana are fulfilled,” Swaraj said amid vociferous protest by members from CPI(M), Samajwadi Party and Trinamool Congress in the Well.
Charging Congress with mishandling the issue of Telangana, she recalled that the BJP-led NDA had created three states during its tenure at the Centre without any disruption in Parliament or in any region.
Accusing Congress of delaying the process of Telangana formation, the Leader of the Opposition said though the ruling party had promised Telangana way back in May 2004, it brought it at the fag end of the 15th Lok Sabha.
“You have been in power in the last ten years, but you did nothing. You just sat over it”, she told Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
India Introspect:They called me Gurkha, Chinese, chinki. I lived through hell: Danny Denzongpa..
Last week, Nido Taniam, a 19-year-old student from Arunachal Pradesh, was killed in an alleged racial attack in Delhi.
Soon after, two Manipuri girls were beaten up by goons in Delhi.
Politicians like Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi were quick to condemn the incidents.
The latter even spoke of there being “only one India” and saying that the country “belongs to all of us”.
With racial abuse now in the spotlight, stars who hail from the north-eastern states of India share their own experiences.
I lived through hell: Danny Denzongpa
The veteran actor believes that lack of geographical and cultural knowledge are the prime reasons behind racial discrimination.
"To feel alienated in your own land is the saddest thing,” he had said, reminiscing about his student days at the Film and Television Institute of India during the Indo-China war in 1962.
"That was the worst time for me.I dreaded stepping out of the campus because people would stare, and jibes like Gurkha, Chinese, Nepalese and chinki were openly thrown at me. I lived through hell,” he added.
But Denzongpa didn’t accept the rejection. He fought it to make his place in Bollywood too. “I knew I was different, but I was going to convert that into an advantage. Once you become a brand, the world wants you — including the same people who rejected you,” he said.
(In an interview to HT Café in June 2012)
Let’s not pretend we’re unaware: Meiyang Chang
Let’s not pretend that we are unaware of the fact that discrimination permeates the very moral fabric of our society on the basis on caste, creed, colour, looks and social standing.
The unfortunate incident in Delhi is a mirror of what happens to members of every community on an everyday basis. We need to be more accepting and less judgmental. One can’t blame another for the sins they themselves commit.
I’ve been teased: Papon
"I have never personally faced racism, but yes, I’ve been teased in a fun way for my accent and looks. However, I don’t know why people are like that. We’re a vast country and there will be differences. I hope the situation improves slowly. There are jokes against south Indians, north Indians and east Indians, but people should start respecting each other. We must be open to all cultures because this country is the biggest collection of them. We should be proud of our versatility and not make fun of it.”
Lots of pain behind the laughter: Jahnu Barua
"I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve faced racism. I’ve had people ask me for my passport and address me as ‘chinki’. Initially, I’d get angry, but later I learned to live with it.
There are people who are mindlessly ignorant and have no human character. I used to protest earlier, but today, I laugh at the people who treated me that way. There’s a lot of pain behind this laughter.”
I detest the mindset of people who can’t change the way they think: Mary Kom
“Most of India is ignorant about the north east. It’s the attitude that’s wrong. I was never taken seriously due to my looks. I had to suffer my share of derogatory ‘Chinki’ remarks, especially in big cities. I speak Hindi, so I always understand what they say. But now, I hope for a new beginning…I hope I can be the change.
The people of the north east are well-qualified and well-brought-up Indians. They are employed in big cities as waiters and shop assistants. I respect the dignity of labour, but I detest the mindset of the people who cannot change the way they think about us. Treat us with warmth, respect and love. Then, there won’t be simmering anger and feelings of alienation in your own land.”
(In an interview to HT Café in August 2012)
To segregate them is criminal: Kalpana Lajmi
The film-maker is completely shocked by the news. “There is definitely an undercurrent of violence and non-acceptance towards north-eastern students. Every member of the Central as well as State
Governments should do something about this. It’s highly unfair to stereotype them and call them by vulgar names because they look different. To segregate them is criminal,” she says, adding, “In 2014, for the police to pick up a young boy and put him back in the same spot, I don’t know what kind of cruelty that is. There is no proper search done regarding who the murderers are. Like all other cases, this too will close down soon and be forgotten.”
Negotiators for the Pakistani Taliban said on Tuesday that government representatives had refused to show up for planned peace talks, citing confusion over the militants’ team.
The two sides had been due to gather in Islamabad at 2:00 pm to chart a “roadmap” for talks, amid a surge in militant violence and scepticism about the chances of reaching a negotiated peace.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif caused surprise last week by announcing a team to begin dialogue with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has been waging a violent insurgency since 2007.
Many observers had been anticipating a military offensive against TTP strongholds in Pakistan’s tribal areas, following a bloody start to the year. More than 110 people were killed in militant attacks in January, many of them military personnel.
The head of the TTP’s talks committee, hardline cleric Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, said he was disappointed the government team had failed to show up as agreed.
"I received a phone call from Irfan Siddiqui who said confusion still persisted because the composition of the Taliban committee has changed from five to three," Haq said. Siddiqui is leading the government negotiators.
"Citing this reason, he said the government committee could not come."
AFP were unable to reach the government for an immediate comment.
Washington has long pressured Pakistan to take action against militants using tribal areas as a base to attack NATO troops across the border in Afghanistan.
Talk of a full offensive in North Waziristan rose last month when the air force bombarded suspected Taliban hideouts following two major attacks on military targets.
But no operation was launched and critics accused Sharif’s government of dithering in response to the resurgent violence.
Even before Tuesday’s abortive start, media held out scant hope for the talks.
The TTP has said in the past that it opposes democracy and wants Islamic sharia law imposed throughout Pakistan, while the government has stressed the country’s constitution must remain paramount.
English-language daily The Nation predicted the “peace talks balloon will burst soon enough”.
"The ambiguity and confusion still exists because the political leadership has been extremely hesitant towards taking a clear stand and calling a spade a spade for a change," it said in an editorial on Tuesday.
The News predicted the process would be “long and excruciating… since neither committee contains anyone with the authority to make decisions”.
The government team consists of senior journalists Siddiqui and Rahimullah Yusufzai, former diplomat Rustam Shah Mohmand and retired major Mohammad Aamir, formerly of the Inter Services Intelligence agency.
The Taliban initially named five negotiators: Haq, Maulana Abdul Aziz, who is the chief cleric of Islamabad’s Red Mosque, Professor Ibrahim Khan of religious party Jamaat-e-Islami, Mufti Kifayatullah of the JUI-F religious party and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan.
But Imran Khan declined the offer and Kifayatullah’s party withdrew Kifayatullah on Monday, complaining they had not been properly consulted over the talks.
Haq urged the government to come to the negotiating table.
"We once again invite the government committee to come and talk to us. We will not make anything a point of prestige," he told reporters.
"We believe that the pressure is now growing on the Prime Minister. He makes sincere offers but later comes under US pressure."
Haq told AFP on Monday that the TTP had so far made no formal demands for the talks.
In the past the militants have called for their prisoners to be released and for Pakistani troops to be pulled out of the seven tribal areas along the Afghan border.